Future trend: crowdsourcing content In higher education

Nice video, huh? Watch it in HD, it’s even cooler.

That’s a clip of “Terrible Lie” by Nine Inch Nails. His album “The Downward Spiral” pretty much defines being 18 and that weird, strange and wonderful time between high school and college. Anyways, Trent Reznor (who attended the college I currently work at for 1 year) has always been a pioneer of using technology to not only power his music but also his fans.

When his recording contract expired, he released a full album on his own, for free. He released, for free, multi-track files of many of his songs so people (myself included) could remix the songs and share them on his site. He released an iPhone app, for free, that allowed people to get up-to-date news, listen to remixes and share their locations at concerts and events around the world. Wanted tickets to his final set of shows last year? Twitter had clues on where to get them. Genius. He leaked new songs by putting them on flash drives and leaving them in the bathroom at shows.

This guy gets the web and technology and social media.

When a deal to commercially film one of his concerts for release on DVD fell through, he came up with a totally relaxed camera and recording policy for this shows on tour. He released raw, high def footage of the shows as torrents that anyone could download and share, mix, edit and basically do with what they please with it.

That video up there? Totally edited, graded, compressed, mixed and released by fans. Crowdsourced. Volunteers who will make nothing in terms of money, instead doing something because the love it and they want to share it.

How can we in higher education tap into those passionate fans, be it students or alumni, to help us generate content for our websites? That’s going to be one of the big things in the next 18 months, I believe.

Let’s face it, the staged photos of a professor leading a faux discussion with a group of students who happen to cover all races and genders isn’t going to cut it for much longer. Kids growing up in the user generated content era want to get the real info. They’re going to find your students sharing videos that you probably don’t know existed and their Facebook posts and Twitter updates. It’s those media touches that are going to make up a students mind, not the glossy view book.

Something to keep in mind for ’10 and going into ’11. How can we best tap into that base of content and get them to create content for us and how can we promote that content front and center. It’s going to scare the old school to death.

I’m all ears. And eyes.